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Powerwheels Clown Car 


Powerwheels Clown Car 

Written By: plhalell05 


This is a remote-controlled Halloween project. It can squirt water at you, then dry you off 
with a cordless blower, swing arms out to "grab" the kids that take too much candy, and 
speak using a walkie-talkie through a PA horn to let them know what the clown is thinking. 
This project will teach you a broad range of techniques for adding remote control to things 
and you can use this same setup to control just about anything with a battery-powered 

I have a video of it on YouTube: 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 1 — Steering 


• This has always been the most difficult part but I have done enough to know now that a 
linear actuator is by far the best thing to use for steering. A linear actuator from eBay is 
about $40 to $50 if you look long enough. One with a two-inch stroke will do. From another 
project I had a Sabertooth 2X25 dual motor driver. One side of the motor controller will 
control the steering while the other side will control the existing motors on the drive 

• Sabertooth motor controllers are very easy to work with. Wire both drive motors together 
and screw them into one side of the Sabertooth and then connect the two wires from the 
linear actuator to the other side of the Sabertooth. Now hook up the signal wires from the 
Sabertooth to your receiver and you're almost ready. ( has a really 
inexpensive 6-channel 2.4GHz transmitter and receiver.) 

) Make Projects 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 2 — Drive Motors 

• Wire the Sabertooth's ground 
terminal (GND) to the battery 
ground, and take the positive lead 
of your battery and wire it into a 50- 
amp switch (cheap from Autozone; 
$3.99). Make sure the switch is off 
and wire the other terminal on the 
switch to the +V terminal on the 
Sabertooth. The Sabertooth has a 
5v regulator built in so you do not 
need anything else; merely connect 
your receiver to the S1 , S2, GND 
and 5v terminals on the back of the 
Sabertooth. Two servo pigtails are 
meant to do this easily, the middle 
wire always being the +5v lead. 

) Make Projects 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 3 — Making the clown turn to look at people 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

• You should now have a driving and 
turning RC Powerwheels car. If you 
have a 6-channel remote control, 
you still have 4 channels left to do 
anything you can think of. I used 
one of them to make my clown turn 
to look at people. (He actually turns 
to point the Water Pik gun at 
people). I had a right-angle motor 
from a surplus store. This is in the 
picture below and I made a PVC 
adapter and set-screwed it to the 
motor shaft. Then I used PVC pipe 
for the clown's torso and this fits 
right into the motor shaft adapter. 
For controlling this I used a 
Sabertooth 2X10 RC unit. 

• (I know you think this is too 
expensive and it is if this is all 
you're doing with the components, 
but I'm sure you will think of other 
uses. I have used these parts on 
25 different projects and just keep 
rotating them from one thing to 
another.) Wire this the same way 
you did the drive motors and wire 
the power through the main switch 
as with the Sabertooth 2X25. This 
way, everything turns off with one 
switch. I used the rudder channel 
of my RC controller to turn the 
clown left and right. The other side 
of the Sabertooth 2X10 will be used 
later for the clown's arms. 

) Make Projects 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 4 — Water Gun 


• Next I added a water pump from a 12-volt sprayer. This is wired directly to the ground of 
the battery and through the switch, just like the two Sabertooth motor controllers. The 
output of the pump runs up to a 12-volt solenoid valve on the back of the clown's head. The 
other side of that runs through the clown's mouth. The solenoid valve's ground wire goes to 
the battery, and the positive wire (red wire) goes through a relay switch (8-channel buy 
from eBay). These are great components; you can get an 8-channel relay switch with 8- 
channel remote control for about $20. 

• The other side of the relay goes to the main battery's positive side. When the relay switch 
is activated the solenoid valve will open, letting the water pump shoot the water out of the 
clown's mouth. The pump needs a reservoir of water to pull from, so I used an empty paint 
can that I could cut a hole in the top of to feed the water hose through. 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 5 — Grabbing Arms 

• Now on to the arms. I used two 
right-angle gear motors that were 
surplus from car seat adjusters. 
They are approximately 100 RPM 
so I knew they would be very fast 
with such long arms, but the 
motors seemed to have enough 
torque to get them started and 
really whip. It turned out to be 
better than I hoped (it hardly ever 
happens like that). Both of these 
motors are wired back to the 
Sabertooth 2X10. I used the throttle 
channel on my remote to control 
these. Push the stick forward and 
they swing out, pull back on the 
stick and they come back into the 
parked position. 

• One of the hardest parts of making 
projects like this is to find a way to 
attach the moving parts to your 
motor shafts. I used a Dremel tool 
to grind a flat stop on the motor 
shafts and used two lock collars to 
setscrew them to the shaft, then 
bolted the PVC arms to the collars. 
To make the pipes conform to the 
body of the Powerwheels I heated 
the pipe up with a blowtorch at a 
single spot and it bent easily. Hold 
it in place where you want it until it 

) Make Projects 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 6 — Cordless Blower 

• I put a cordless blower into the Powerwheels to blow air into the kids' faces. I used the 
existing battery that comes with the blower. Connect a ground terminal to the ground 
terminal on the cordless blower, connect the positive terminal to one side of a relay on 
your 8-channel relay switch and then the other side of the relay goes to the cordless 
blower's terminal. When you close the relay you will turn on the blower. Just make sure to 
leave the cordless blower's own power switch on. 

• It's a little hard to see in the picture but I used a short hose to direct the air from the blower 
out the front of the windshield of the Powerwheels. 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 7 — Chomping Teeth 

i The chomping teeth on the hood were really easy to make. I put a small hinge on the hood 
and put a slow-turning (30 RPM) motor inside the hood with a short piece of aluminum 
channel bolted to the motor output shaft. I wired the motor through the relay switch and 
when you close the relay the motor starts running and the aluminum channel hits the hood, 
pushing it up. When the aluminum channel rotates out of the way the hood falls down and 
the process repeats. 

> The teeth are foam insulation from Home Depot and are held in place with some duct tape. 
With a little paint they start to look like teeth. 

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Powerwheels Clown Car 

Step 8 — LED glowing eyes 

• I added LEDs in the clown's eyes to make him seem more creepy. I used some LEDs 
bought from that will take 5-volt input to make them glow. Remember how 
the Sabertooth motor controllers have built-in 5-volt regulators? Well, simply plug the 
LEDs into them and they will light up when you turn on the main power switch of the 

• I drilled holes through the clown's eyes and fished the wires through them and all the way 
down the clown's torso to the receiver. I used more foam to cut out some scary eyes for 
the car (my artist wife had to help me there) and put LEDs in them as well. 

Step 9 — Scary Clown Laugh 

• I had a set of walkie-talkies and I kept one with me inside the house and put the other one 
in the Powerwheels. I used a PA horn bought from eBay several years ago and got a 1/8" 
stereo plug connector that fits into the output plug of the walkie-talkie. 

• I had downloaded several scary laughs to my phone and I would play them through the 
walkie-talkie to the Powerwheels. This really did seem to work well. 

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